Start-up Guide for Online Writers – course review

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Kate Motaung sent an email out to students who have taken this course, Start-up Guide for Online Writers.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the price of this course goes up to $29.99.  However, it’s still on sale today for $19.99.  If you are considering investing in your writing self, this is a good day to take the plunge and make a commitment to YOU. Nothing good happens without commitment. Right?

Here’s the link from Kate’s email. https://learning.fistbumpmedia.com/course/startup-guide-online-writers/?ref=3 

If you miss the deadline, it’s OK. The resources you will find in this course are valuable even at the higher price.

 

Giant strides learning comes from small pervasive steps …

A few weeks ago, I was invited into a learning experience shared with fellow writers whose audience is virtual. In today’s environment it’s common to refer to the virtual meeting via satellite or virtual classroom via an online learning management system. When I think of writing articles or books for a virtual audience it seems so mysterious and unconventional. So I was eager to join this group and immerse myself in learning from Kate Motaung, seasoned, professional author and founder of 5-minute Friday, an online community that supports writers improving their craft.

This course is an excellent value. Based on the education provided for writers in general and because there were so many resources, I found this course to be remarkable for seasoned writers as well as those who are just getting started. First, I thought it helpful that Kate Motaung understood that some enrollees in the course might be new to online courses. The very first lesson was all about becoming acclimated to taking an online course. The remaining Units of the course continued to provide a broad spectrum of information every writer of online content needs to know.

I appreciated the practical advice about having a website and the impact your email list has on your blog or business. I remember that even in the decades before email, it was the mail list that was scrupulously maintained because it ranked high in getting noticed. Let me tell you, having done both, maintaining an email list is easier.

One of the greatest benefits to me in taking this course was becoming familiar with different writing tools and supporting Apps. Here are just a few of the ones I have checked out and am now using or plan to purchase because of what I learned in this Start-up Guide for Online Writers. Evernote was a given, as I have used it for the last few years. I use Buffer to schedule social media posts and Canva to create the images. I am looking forward to using Scrivner which I have heard is like Word on steroids. I found out about so many other apps that helped either with creative thinking or actual writing, I must decide when I can work them into my schedule to try them. I expect them to be a great asset.  

The pitch to join the social media crowd was sound. If you are going to write for online audiences, you have to go where your audiences are. Kate advised us to get accounts at least on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don’t spend much time there, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ also open the playing field to readers of your articles and posts.

I found the writer’s tools in the Module, Get the Resources You Need, to be priceless. I learned about Link-ups for bloggers, which surprised me. I sometimes participate in Kate Motaung’s 5-Minute Friday Link-up and had no clue that it was this type of venue. Here’s what blew me away though. From her knowledge and experience, Kate Motaung listed many names, blogs, websites, and programs of professionals who have been doing this online writing for years. They have perfected their crafts and Kate included links to their blogs and publications. That Unit of the course is a goldmine for students of this course who want to seek mentors and coaches in the future. 

What I found in this course that added to its value were the lessons on things like podcasting, reading books to strengthen my craft as a writer, searching out other courses, and learning from experts. There was also a lesson all about affiliate marketing, what it is, how it works, and what to do if you want to try it out.

I realize this course was designed primarily for writers whose audiences are online, but so much of what I read was universal and could apply to writers of any venue. Writing articles and books for real-life paper and ink publication has so many parallels with writing for online audiences, I recommend this course for anyone who wants to write and create a platform to be noticed. The value of content-to-cost makes this a viable purchase with benefits for both the online writer and traditional writer. I wandered around on Amazon while taking this course and bought Kate Motaung’s e-book, Start-up Guide for Online Christian Writers, so I would have a Kindle version of this course available quickly when I wanted a reference to what I learned.

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The Unspoken Code by Marja Norris – book review

Secret handshake. Good Ole Boys Club. Neither has anything over the network of women you will identify with in this book, The Unspoken Code. What I appreciated most about reading Marja Norris’ book was her way of making her points with no hint of poor attitude. Early in the book Norris describes what she calls the unspoken code. “The code is about understanding the behaviors that differentiate power players from the rest of the pack. It’s about exuding confidence from the inside out. It’s about building assertiveness and flexing communication skills and conveying a professional image.” If that sounds on par with jumping hurdles, that’s why this book was written. Marja Norris will be your coach while you learn your way through the process of aiming high and achieving higher. You won’t read a chapter and move on. This author understands the power of commitment and sums up every chapter with a list of Things to Remember and a Plan of Action. As a result of what you learned, what will you stop doing? What will you start doing? And we all know some of what we do is already beneficial so – what will you continue doing?

The Unspoken Code flows. By that I mean the author feeds her readers what they need to know and what they need to practice before moving on to the next thing. For example, she doesn’t bait you with becoming a power player until she directs your thoughts and actions to first laying the foundation.

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Let’s start with the ABCs. Attitude, Behavior, Confidence

We could easily succumb to pressures around us and give up on choosing a positive attitude. Granted some folks are more naturally positive while others lean heavily to the negative. Still we choose our attitudes and we choose our reactions. Norris offers an excellent visualization exercise for creating a winning attitude. The truth is, “No matter what your circumstances, your attitude is a choice you make that affects everything you do.” Dovetailing with attitude is behavior which is a full cycle version of action, interaction, reaction. What does success look like? It looks a lot like good behavior: discipline, integrity, kindness, conquering fear. This leads directly in to confidence. “Confidence is being conscious of your power.” The author shares advice for overcoming Imposter Syndrome and an exercise in Creating an Aura of Confidence.  

Her chapter titled The Hole in Your Glass is Leaking intrigued me. You will instantly relate to the analogy when you read the chapter. We hold a glass in our hand with 6 holes, each representing an area of our life. Water fills the glass and no matter how hard we try, we cannot hold the glass in a way that keeps all holes covered. One is always leaking. The meaning threaded through this chapter is about living our life around our values even though we must choose to tend to one area rather than another as we scramble to multi-task. Learn about yourself as you also create a Master List based on techniques that work best for you. Remember the focus of this book is on helping you become who you want to be and have the life you want to have. It is not selfish to take care of you first. To be the best version of you, make self-care a priority.

Becoming an Office Power Player

You will learn in this section of the book, what the author experienced herself and learned from her business coach and from others. Immediately, we discover that men and women are wired differently. This means we think differently and see things from different perspectives. But here’s an absolute truth. “Despite our differences, men and women must work together effectively in the corporate world to get things done.” By the word ‘different’ we know that what starts out as differences can escalate into conflict, hard feelings, maybe a few grudges, a little gossip. Nothing good can come of that, certainly not the productive, power player that will grow your leadership and earn you a C-Suite position. Norris levels with women, “As women, to know this [differences] and understand that it’s about us shifting to fit the environment, in a healthy way is imperative.”

Dress the Part

I’m not a fashionista. Maybe you aren’t either. Whether you’ve got fashion nailed or not, the final chapters of the book are a powerhouse of tips, hints, and rules for how to dress up or dress down for the occasion. There really is a power look and even if there is no dress code, there are proper ways to dress. The author reminds women that they need to be conscious of what they are trying to achieve, what image they are portraying, and what motivates them to choose the outfits they wear. If you think the business suit has to be straight, navy blue, and unadorned, think again. Marja Norris says you can mix your personal style, fashion, and flare into your wardrobe, and this chapter on how to dress the part has strategies to help you attain the power suit look that looks like it was made for you.

“The code has gone unspoken long enough. You now have tools to handle situations you come across with strength and perseverance.”

–Marja Norris

This article first appeared on BizCatalyst360 in BizBooks.

Work-Life Balance Brilliance by Denise R. Green: book summary

Have you ever thought of hiring a life coach? Have you ever wondered what you could achieve if you had an accountability partner? Maybe you’ve tried the novel approach to creating different results than the trajectory you are on right now. If you are self-motivated at all, this book could be the recipe for positive momentum in finding what works for you. One glance at the book cover should clue you in to what the author thinks of work-life balance. In fact, the title of the book is, Work-Life Balance Brilliance and isn’t that really what we want from our lives and from our work?

I usually don’t copy chapter titles into a book summary, but in this case, the chapter titles are like opening the doors and giving you a full spectrum view of why this book functions like a personal coach. Burnout versus Brilliance, Tame Your Thoughts, Reinvent Your Outer Self, Nurture Brilliant Relationships, Manage Your Relationship with “Stuff”, Brilliant Sleep., How Not to Change, How to Choose the Right Goal, How to Change for Good, How to Say No with Grace, Not Guilt. Now you can see why I wanted to reveal the chapter titles before mentioning what is so fascinating and magnetic about this book.  From the outset, I had a feeling there was a meaningful purpose behind the writing of this book that I could identify with and Denise Green described it. “I’m on a mission to help people light the spark within them that may feel like it’s been nearly snuffed out due to the demands of life.” Does that sound anything like your dilemma? Here’s your next book.    Work-Life Balance Brilliance  

This book, with the chapters listed above, can best be described as a tool for knowing yourself and understanding inspirations and aspirations within and how your relationships and interactions are key in creating brilliance. The author identifies the four realms of Whole Life Integrations which she calls Brillance. Then through stories and instructive dialog, she coaches you through the steps to create that work-like brilliance.

I am a huge advocate of being careful with thoughts because thoughts drive actions. I was impressed with the content of the chapter, Tame Your Thoughts. Green doesn’t just rely on dialog to teach the methods of controlling thought. She offers a 6-step upgrade tool that I would call guided self-reflection. Then she offers advice on how to make your release from negative thoughts really stick.

Some strong points of this book are in the toolkits integrated with each chapter. Story is interesting, and case studies are evidence that somewhere along the line the principles taught in the book worked for someone. All you have to do is read through some of the action items to know that, if put into practice, many of your niggling aspirations could become your reality. By implementing some of the basic ideas suggested could bolster your confidence and give you an edge toward balance which you will redefine as brilliance. You don’t have to change everything. The changes will be dictated by what you discover about yourself and about relationships as you work through the pages of the book and guidance received by using the focus-inciting questions.

When I read a book like this one, I have a tendency to choose a favorite chapter. Manage Your Relationship With “Stuff” was a surprise. It is a powerful game-changer. Rarely have I read a book like this one that so aptly presents the tethers that hold us back like our ‘stuff’. Denise Green points out that we have two limitations that are huge. Time – we get 24 hours every day. Period. Physical – we operate with imperfect bodies that need to be taken care of – sleep is one thing most of us need more of. Note: we get 24 hours every day. Period. The author remarks that “This Brilliance realm (relationship with stuff) includes our relationship to our spaces, possessions, technology, and time.”  Certainly, every reader can identify with the components we all deal with every day and how we allow them to affect our world makes this book invaluable to creating a brilliant life. Do you need ideas for managing your time, designing a winning pattern for your day, working productively in your environment, managing technology? How about reducing your exposure to toxic energy? The toolkit consists of worksheets to help you replace those components that are not serving you.

Remember sleep? Some of us are more familiar with the lack of it. The chapter titled Brilliant Sleep is – well – brilliant. Whether you suffer from legitimate insomnia or sleep deprivation brought on by environmental or physical or activity conditions, the best practices for sleep hygiene in this chapter are priceless. Yes, we all know the trick of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day. We know to restrict caffeine in the afternoon. We might, on the advice of a physician, take melatonin. We might invest in a book that sends us to sleep because it provides absolutely no spark of interest. If you want to sleep and have forgotten what it feels like to get adequate sleep, you aren’t alone. The tips in this book are plentiful.

The final chapters of the book are based on putting legs on what you learned in the first part of the book. What do you want to change? What goals do you have? Are they the right goals for how you envision your work-life brilliance future? I remember hearing someone say that we invest ten months planning a two-week vacation and about ten minutes planning our future existence. That’s probably not truly accurate, but isn’t it true that we have goals, but may not know if they are the right goals until we get there and realize they aren’t?

This book, like a life coach, walks through the realms of life and helps you create a vision for your best life, set the right goals, determine how you will get there, and make wise choices of what you will do and what you will not. The author concludes with what I think of as the magic three. I mean if there was a bit of magic in all this.  Green says in her final address to readers, “If I were forced to describe achieving work-life brilliance in a few steps, those steps would include Assess, Choose, Change.”

There is no magic, but if you’re looking for help in reinventing your life, this book can bring magical results.

This book summary was first published at BizCatalyst360.com.  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/work-life-brilliance/ 

The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance – Book Summary

The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance

By Dr. Christian Marcolli     

Before diving into the content of this book, I want to compliment the author and publisher on the format of the book pages. I read about 15 business books every year and most of them have a traditional textbook look and feel. You know what that does to inspired reading – well, this book is not at all like reading a textbook. It’s more on the order of attractively designed help pages with white space and clean font. I know. Normally that aspect doesn’t find its way into a book review, but I was impressed and am giving credit where it’s deserved.

This book title is cleverly relevant today. The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance by Dr. Christian Marcolli, recognizes the volatility of workplaces, teams, groups, and communities today. Dr. Marcolli said, “We have reached the Melting Point when we no longer fully control our thinking, our emotions, and our behaviors, in a positive and impactful way.”  The final words of that sentence, at least to me, are the theme of this book. We all reach the point of meltdown but can we somehow transform the potentially negative into a positive and impactful outcome?

Becoming First Class

Life is not going to slow down, demands are not likely to either. Projects are never assigned with the expectation that you will do the minimum to just get by. No, expectations are geared toward high-performance today and high-performance tomorrow, even if there are obstacles and encumbering circumstances. That’s where this book comes in. You will learn to apply the most important factors when the heat is on: staying cool, raising your Melting Point

The author clearly understands the process of building a career and the pattern that unfolds as executive capacity is developed. He says, “Top performers have three recognizable traits – passion, adaptability, and coolness. But top performers also make key transitions as they develop.“ 

If you are an emerging leader on the trajectory of rising to your calling, this book is like spending time with a life coach, business mentor, career advisor, and professional counselor. In fact, Dr. Marcolli says, “We need to understand why life has become so tough for business leaders in today’s challenging workplace.” Then he coaches you through it.

Feeling the Heat

Who doesn’t feel the heat in today’s environment? Be it at work or home, the pace is red hot. We can blame it on relentless change, advancing technology, omnipresent globalization, but blame is a negative word and we are after positive transformation here. Instead look into the factors contributing to rising pressure and learn what can be done to face the challenges in a positive, influential way. Marcolli states it in plain language,” The intense workplace isn’t going to go away, and leaders need to understand the impact of this – on themselves, on their teams, and on their organizations.” Through the pages of this book, the author coaches leaders through the process of growing into their roles and experiencing an executive performance transformation. He says there are four stages of Executive Performance Transformation. 1) Drawn in, 2) Obsessed, 3) Ready for Success, 4) Playful

To grow through these stages, you need to be exposed to challenges and stress. I’m guessing, you will have no trouble identifying with the challenges and stress part. When you read this book, you will be guided through the stages of how you arrive at playfulness where you are responsible for yourself and individuals on your team, and the key operative words here are that you are ‘enjoying it’.

To make the trek from ‘Drawn in’ to ‘Playful’ requires that you have an intimate understanding of your Melting Point. 

“The key success factor for business leaders, executives, and corporate performers to sustainably deliver world-class performance is the ability to raise their Melting Point.” 

When you understand it and the factors interacting to determine your melting point your reaction can go from panic to peace. The author describes how these three factors are interrelated and how they affect your Melting Point.

1)      Mental and emotional constitution – how much we can take before we melt down

2)     Situational pressures – what is happening in your world over a short timeframe that causes you intense stress

3)     Constant pressures – then there is the constant pressure which is characteristic of your role

What creates heat for you? Dr. Marcolli gives us 15 examples of what might create heat for each of us, some of which may be relevant to you, but not to someone else. Examples of the fifteen are: Long hours, Office politics, Travel, Executive isolation, Career moves, Family crisis, Health issues, and here’s one for every person reading this – Always “ON”.

“When top performers reach their Melting Point, it is never simply the result of situational and constant pressures. It is compounded by the elements mentioned above combined with their basic psychological constitution.”

Our culture seems to turn up the heat and create environments of volatility in consistent repetition. There is rarely time to cool off before another heated occurrence confronts us. Raising Your Melting Point takes all the symptoms, causes, elements, experiences, and boils them down into recommendations for raising your Melting Point. In the final chapter of his book, Dr. Marcolli presents the six Ps of Personal Leadership Excellence which leads to raising your Melting Point. Passion, Precision, Perception, Peace, Presence, and Persistence

He also discusses the ten specific behavioral patterns needed to raise your Melting Point. When you read the book, don’t skip the chapters leading up to this one and be sure to read the real-life case studies that are serious eye openers of how executives have learned to raise their Melting Point.  I am putting in a plug for the last chapter that walks you through those important ‘10 key behavioral patterns’ to raise your melting point. Dr. Christian Marcolli has written a solid guide that’s transparent and easily understood so you can raise your melting point, not overnight, but through practice and progress.

https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/the-melting-point-how-to-stay-cool-and-sustain-world-class-business-performance/

Transforming Memories: Sharing Spontaneous Writing Using Loaded Words – Book Summary

 

I must be honest here, this book both challenged me and encouraged me. The aha moments I identified with were tempered by flagrant emotional tension of those stories that left me shocked. The book begins at the title with a badge of courage, “Transforming Memories: Sharing Spontaneous Writing Using Loaded Words”. To understand the title is to understand the environments these three authors grew from; all of them children of alcoholics.

Read the full book review here: BizCatalyst360 – Transforming Memories
There are no pages bleeding out poor me, feel sorry for me, sympathy-seeking, parent-slamming, passive aggressive, co-dependency. Instead the book is predicated on what it was like to grow up in a family dysfunctional due to alcoholism. The first part of the book by Liz Crocker, Polly Bennell, and Holly Book describes their discovery of writing as a healing mechanism for their souls. Through their practice of writing and seeing its advantages, they agreed that they needed to share this form of therapeutic benefits with others. This book, Transforming Memories: Sharing Spontaneous Writing Using Loaded Words, is the result.

Outsmart Your Instincts – book summary

You really have to respect a book that covers topics as modern as tomorrow with a Foreword that starts out. “I was born in Minnesota in 1928 …”. My curiosity was revved and I had to read this book. Besides, when there are three authors creating content for ten chapters in one book, most of them with the word ‘bias’ in the title, what would you do? Read it, of course. To give you just a little insight here, these are partial titles of each chapter. Negativity Bias, Availability Bias, The Curse of Knowledge, Status Quo Bias, Conformity Bias, Confirmation Bias, Framing – Like a Fish in Water, then my favorite chapter is titled, Confabulation – Of Course That’s Why I Did That! I guess it could be the word itself, confabulation, but more likely it’s the hint that there is an explanation for how stories from our history grow imaginary facts when processed through our memories. Are you curious yet?outsmart-your-instincts-book-cover

Since there are only 10 chapters with pretty cool titles, you, as the reader, could dive into the chapters that interest you most, or you could start at page one and systematically read through the entire book. You could – but I bet you won’t. I didn’t because some of the chapters were just too interesting to wait to read.

Outsmart Your Instincts. That’s how you move from what is into the potential of what can be. To sum up, you will be able to apply what you learn in this book as a tool for using the Behavioral Innovation™ approach to drive your company forward. In it there is a solid instruction like this statement straight out of the book. “Combat the tenacity of Cognitive Biases. Stay humble, keep curious, and never lose the sense of play.”

Read more about this lively, penetrating, and resourceful book here on the Biz Catalyst 360 network: https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/outsmart-your-instincts-how-the-behavioral-innovation-approach-drives-your-company-forward/ 

Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most

One of the hooks that attracted me to this book is knowing that one of the authors, Rick, is a coach and the other, Judd, is a vice president at the Ken Blanchard Companies. Expecting to learn something valuable, I wasn’t, for a moment disappointed.  Read the full book summary here

The book is organized for easy learning with quick refer backs to practice the principles for yourself. Each chapter ends with a page highlighting what the authors hope you learned followed by a Try-it section to guide the self-motivated reader to make improvements, beginning now. Peering through the book, I noticed that each chapter title contained the word Reframing. Curiously, I looked for how that term was defined – you know. Just in case my interpretation was far distant from what was intended. I think you’ll like this Reframing approach to getting past hurdles that might be holding you back.    crunchtime

Reframing – The skill of consciously thinking about a situation in a new or different way to change how you interpret the situation, and actions you take, and the results you achieve.
Reframing can be learned by anyone. It’s a cognitive skill you can use to quickly and effectively equip your mind and body to perform well under pressure, anytime, anywhere.

I am a firm believer in how powerful our minds are and how they affect our lives from the smallest moments to the most extensive outcomes. As proven throughout the book, “Thinking differently is the starting point. Change how you act, and change your results.” Put your thoughts into a new frame of reference, new frame of mind, and therein lies the power of Reframing. Each of the chapters tells stories that are totally true, have teachable moments, and are so entertaining you will not be able to choose favorites from those the authors have used to illustrate their points.

Full book summary is published on the BizCatalyst360 network website under BizBooks & Beyond.  Here’s the direct link. https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/crunch-time-how-to-be-your-best-when-it-matters-most/